Democracy means allowing everyday people to have their voices heard on public matters involving their communities. One of the goals of civic technology is to allow a more diverse group of people to have input on government affairs through the use of technology and the internet.
Beth Noveck, author of Solving Public Problems and Director of the Governance Lab, chats with EFF's Cindy Cohn and Danny O'Brien about how civic technology can enhance people's relationship with the government and help improve their communities.
One challenge that governments have is finding out what problems are plaguing their citizens and then figuring out how to solve them. But without input from community members, governments can't figure out what problem they are trying to solve.
One of the promises of civic technology is to allow for a more diverse group of citizens, from those who cannot attend in-person forums to marginalized communities, to raise awareness about problems in their areas, and offer solutions that they believe would be beneficial.
But, as Beth explains, governments have some work to do to allow this civic technology to work—from educating or hiring government officials who know how to use this technology to ensuring that communities know these outlets exist.
In this episode you’ll learn about:
- What civic technology is and how it can be used to approach and fix public problems while enhancing the relationship between people and their government.
- The importance of deciding what problem you are trying to solve before working on a solution.
- Ways that civic technology can ensure that the government is held accountable for its actions.
- How we can build civic technology tools to increase inclusion, specifically for those who have been marginalized or previously left out of the conversation.
- Why civic technology allows for more people to get engaged in their democracy.
- The good and bad that can come with governments increasing their knowledge of technology.
Beth Noveck is a professor at Northeastern University, where she directs the Burnes Family Center for Social Change and Impact and its partner project, The Governance Lab (The GovLab). She is the author of Solving Public Problems: How to Fix Our Government and Change Our World. You can find Beth on Twitter @bethnoveck.
You can find more information, including a transcript, at eff.org/pod204.